With sight on rotation, LeBlanc delivers strong start

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's two-and-a-half weeks until the regular season opens, a month until the Marlins would need a fifth starter. So there's plenty of time for things to change.

Still, after Wade LeBlanc pitched four more shutout innings in a 10-2 win over the Braves on Sunday at Champion Stadium, it's fair to say he has the inside track. He's now pitched 10 Grapefruit League innings. He's allowed six hits, hasn't walked a batter and has a 0.00 earned run average.

"Absolutely," said manager Mike Redmond. "He's pitched well. He's had a great spring. And he definitely made a case for a spot in that rotation. He's just got to keep going out there and showing that consistency and let all the chips fall where they may."

"You know what, man? I feel good just because I'm healthy," LeBlanc said. "As long as you're healthy, you have a shot. Priority No. 1 is to make sure you're healthy and can bounce back the next day and be ready for the next game, whenever that is. Then you leave those decisions to those guys. As long as you're healthy and prepared for every outing, there's really nothing to worry about as far as any of that stuff."

Also working in his favor is that he's currently the only lefty candidate for the rotation, and he's out of options.

LeBlanc's only hiccup was a start against Venezuela in a World Baseball Classic exhibition when he was charged with three runs (two earned) in 2 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two strikeouts. Then again, Venezuela isn't on the Marlins' schedule this season.

Also in the running for the fifth spot are right-handers John Maine and Kevin Slowey. Redmond said there still could be opportunities for pitchers who aren't starters on Opening Day. "There's an option there for a long guy in the bullpen, too. That's something that we'll have to figure out as we get farther into it, see what direction we want to go," he pointed out.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.